June 20th, 2009 – (SALEM, Ore.) – In a bipartisan vote, the Oregon Senate voted to join 15 other states today by passing legislation that outlines state practices for the growth and sale of industrial hemp. SB 676 authorizes the production, possession and oregoncommerce in industrial hemp commodities and products.

“Senate Bill 676 will allow farmers to re-establish industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in Oregon,” said Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), who carried the bill on the floor. “Industrial hemp is an innovative crop that is regaining its popularity across the globe. This legislation sets the course for growing and selling this high-demand crop in Oregon.”

SB 676 identifies that industrial hemp is an agricultural product that is subject to regulation by the Department of Agriculture and requires that all growers and handlers have an industrial hemp license issued by the Department. Additionally, the Department will establish a field inspection program, a certifications process for hemp seed, and a civil penalty procedure for violations.

“We heard a lot of positive testimony on this bill in committee,” said Senator Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland), chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “Senate Bill 676 clears the way for this product to be added to Oregon’s diverse portfolio of agricultural products.”

The terms “hemp” and “industrial hemp” refer specifically to varieties of Cannabis sativa characterized by low levels of THC, marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical. These strains are cultivated for industrial use only. Hemp fiber is amenable to use in a wide range of products including carpeting, home furnishings, construction materials, auto parts, textiles, and paper. Hemp seed, an oilseed, likewise has many uses, including industrial oils, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food.

Industrial hemp was grown in the United States since colonial times but was banned in 1970 when it was redefined as marijuana. Currently, manufacturers and producers must import hemp into the country since they cannot buy domestic hemp from American farmers.

SB 676 passed out of Full Ways and Means on a 19-3-0 vote and now goes to the House for consideration.

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